When deciding to join any organization, such as the Freemasons, it is always a good idea to have some idea of who they are and what they do. Once you know the basics you can ask yourself, is this right for me? Do I have what it takes to be a Freemason? Are the Freemasons a good fit for me? All good questions and with a little background about who they are you will be able to answer all of these questions. Finding out the core principals and requirements will put you on a path of discovery and enlightenment as you begin your journey.
The origins of Freemasonry can be traced back to around the 16th or 17th centuries in Scotland and England, although there is some evidence that it may date back to the late 1300’s as suggested in the poem “Regius Manuscript”. In 1717 the first Grand Lodge was formed in England when 4 local lodges had a dinner. This was known as the Grand Lodge of England. Due to some disagreements on modernization policies a group of Masons formed the Antient Grand Lodge of England. Freemasonry was brought to America by the British around 1730. Today there are about two million Freemasons in the U.S. alone and around six million Masons worldwide. The Masons are well known for various charitable works. Some of the charities that the Masons are best known for are the Masonic Service Association, the Masonic Medical Research Laboratory and the Shriners Hospitals for Children.
Contrary to popular belief membership in the Freemasons is not by invitation only. As a matter of fact some lodges don’t allow it at all. They instead wait for a potential candidate to inquire and then members of the lodge will answer any questions they may have. However, the official process does not begin until the interested party formally petitions the lodge for membership. Once the petition is made the lodge brothers will perform a sort of investigation to satisfy themselves that the petitioner is a person of good moral character. After that portion is completed a secret ballot will be held. Depending on the jurisdiction the lodge is in determines how many yes votes are needed to approve the petitioner. The number of no votes or “black balls” needed to deny a petitioner varies but is usually between one and three.
The requirements to become a Freemason are simple and straight forward. They are as follows:
1. You must be a man and have come to the lodge of your own free will.
2. You must believe in a Supreme Being (the nature of that supreme being is left up to the petitioners interpretation)
3. Depending on the jurisdiction You must meet the minimum age requirement of 18-25
4. You must be found to be of good morals and character
5. You must meet the lodge requirement of sound mind and body
6. You must be born free (some jurisdictions have done away with this requirement)
7. Must provide personal character references as well as references from two current Masons.
Freemasonry is not a religion or a replacement for religion. It is an organization built on principles, morals and good deeds. You can find out more about Freemasonry by visiting your local lodge and talking to the members. Now that you know the basics you can decide if you want to be a Freemason. Good Luck!